Parenting is a Journey
An Adventure of Discovery Not Only of our Children But of Ourselves as Well
April is such an ideal month for bike riding—it’s not too hot and not too cold. Family bike rides are a serene way to spend time together while getting exercise and seeing the sights of the majestic Bay Area. However, most parents of young kids and toddlers aren’t too keen on the idea of riding with their kids through city traffic and other roads shared with cars. Thank goodness there are plenty of family-friendly bike trails just a car ride away from home. These trails, used by walkers, joggers, bicyclists, and dog walkers alike, are safe from oncoming cars and are generally mostly flat or easy hills, nothing too strenuous for new riders. Be sure to share the road, stay to the right, and use a bell to alert other trail users when passing. Helmets as always, water, sunscreen, and a picnic lunch round out the experience. Here are the best spots for a leisurely bike cruise with kids either tandem riding, in a bike trailer, or on their own bikes.
Bicycle Sundays on Cañada Road — San Mateo
Every Sunday, Cañada Road from Filoli entrance to Hwy 92 is closed to all traffic except bicycles! Imagine, a whole road full of families bicycling without worry of cars and trucks! Joggers, hikers, skaters, and strollers are welcome too. The event is subject to cancellation in the event of bad weather, so call ahead of time before making the trip out there. www.smcgov.org (650) 361-1785
Iron Horse Trail — Walnut Creek
Spanning from Concord to Danville, the Iron Horse Trail is 20 feet wide and follows an old railway line no longer in use. It will take riders near shops and eateries, including a delightful gelato spot at the southern end of the trail. www.ebparks.org
Sycamore Grove — Livermore
Livermore’s backyard has a very accessible trail for riders. Pay $7 to park and enjoy almond orchards, wildlife, and winery ruins. This is a rustic trail with no places to stop for snacks or a playground, so it’s for more mature riders like middle schoolers and teens. www.larpd.org
Coyote Hills — Fremont
Five minutes from Newark, Coyote Hills Regional Park features the Alameda Creek Trail. This 12-mile trail goes from the eastern shores of the bay to Niles Canyon. If that’s too much, do the 3.5-mile paved Bay View Trail, which has lovely scenic views. www.ebparks.org
Bay Trail — Crockett to Emeryville
This huge trail hugs the shoreline and passes through the Richmond and Berkeley Marinas. Ride all or some of it, but keep in mind it is busy on the weekends. Berkeley riders can just head over to Caesar Chavez Park in the Marina and do the large paved loop there. Richmond riders will enjoy a few spots to eat, and the Rosie the Riveter museum is nearby.
Golden Gate Park — San Francisco
It goes without saying that this park is an amazing place to ride. Drive to a spot and cruise around. See the magnificent landscaping and architecture while enjoying smoothly paved paths! Nice weather brings lots of crowds on weekends, so sneak over there during the week for maximum enjoyment.
Stafford Lake Bike Park — Novato
Bikes are huge in the Marin area. A quick Google search will show dozens of links to bike-oriented recreation and events throughout the county. One of the best for families is Stafford Lake. The park has several different bicycling areas for all levels of riding experience, but best of all, it has a kids learn-to-ride area where kids can get confident without being in the way of more serious adult riders. Parking and bathrooms make this park a perfect choice for kids. Marin is serious about bicycling, so this park is only one of many areas ideal for bikes. To learn more, start with www.Marinbike.org and go from there! Stafford Lake info can be found at www.marincountyparks.org.
Haley Reen is an East Bay-based freelance writer.